Back when the Moral Monday movement first started, I wrote a blog suggesting the leaders not call it “Moral Monday.” I quickly lost that argument and have referred to it as Moral Monday ever since. No sense fighting a losing battle.
That said, I’ll stand by my reasoning. These protests are less about morality than they are about politics. The protests have two major goals: (1) inform and incite the base of progressive voters so they engage with the political process and (2) shine a light on Republican policies and their abuse of the legislative process.
Moral Monday is a political movement, not a social one. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was a social movement focused on ending a system of state-sanctioned discrimination against a group of people because of the color of their skin. The goal of the protests then was to grab the attention of people outside of the South in order to build support for their Members of Congress to pass federal legislation that forced Southern states and society to change. It was a mass movement and it attracted people of all political persuasions.
The Moral Monday movement is about changing policies, not society. The bills coming out of the legislature are regressive, mean-spirited and draconian, but they don’t rise to the sins of the Jim Crow South. We shouldn’t tell people what is moral and immoral. We should tell them what the bills do and let them decide. I bet they agree with us.
Right now, Moral Mondays are firing up the base and driving the news cycle. To be successful in the long run, we have to translate that momentum into victories at the ballot box. There are a lot of reasons for people to reject the GOP and their policies–500,000 people denied health care, 170,000 people kicked off of unemployment insurance, guns in bars, college campuses and parks and the list goes on and on. Let’s stay away from judgmental language and focus on the impact of those policies. In the end, we need to appeal to swing voters’ self-interests, not our own sense of right and wrong.
Claiming moral superiority begs for our opponents to search for moral failings–and I assure you, they are looking hard right now. Nothing changes the conversation faster than scandal. Let’s avoid a self-righteous posture and remember, we all live in glass houses.